The unqualified accountant, Peter Wardle 68 from Witton-le-Wear County Durham, was handed an 18-month suspended jail sentence and curfew for his role in the crimes yesterday at Teeside Crown Court, The Northern Echo reported.
The fraud ring was led by 57-year-old David Purdie of Dunston, Gateshead. He used two companies to commit the fraud: North East Property Buyers and a packaging firm Newcastle Home Loans. Wardle was in charge of the accounting for both companies.
The gang scammed up to £300m from mortgage lenders by submitting false mortgage applications on up to 2,400 properties which involved inflating property prices, gifting deposits and overstating the amount of rental income properties could generate.
Wardle’s barrister, James Bourne-Arton, told the court that the accountant’s role was in the back office. He said this meant Wardle’s part in the con was ‘very different from the others’ and was ‘more passive’ because he was ‘just recording figures’.
The scheme collapsed after five years, around the time of the financial crisis, when the defendants could no longer afford to keep up with repayments which resulted in tenants of the properties being left with nowhere to live when homes were repossessed.
The QC prosecuting in Wardle’s case, Jane Bewsey, told the court: “The scale of this fraud was truly massive. There are many many losers. Individuals have been severely affected by the fallout from the collapse of this dishonest scheme.”
The four fraudsters sentenced to jail in October were Purdie who received five years and six months and Michael Foster, 43 from Houghton listed as a director of North East Property Buyers, received three years and nine months.
Linda Patterson, 57 from Newcastle, who worked as an underwriter received three years and two months. All three admitted conspiracy to defraud. The fourth member, chartered surveyor Steven Keay, 54 from Sunderland, was sentenced to 23 months.
Both Keay and Wardle were found guilty of furnishing false information.